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Reporter Central Kitsap

He’s a hugger Coach Pete Carroll likes a good hug Kitsap Week


She’s the new face of the Clear Creek Task Force


She’s been a part of the Clear Creek team for more than 18 years. And now she’s ready to lead. Silverdale’s Mary Earl has taken over leadership of the Clear Creek Task Force from Tex Lewis and is working to make the group have a bit more organization and structure than it has had in the past. “The task force has been a very important part of this community for years,” she said. “We’ve had much success. And now it’s time for us to add some structure.” The original task force was formed in 1993 by volunteers to create and maintain community support to preserve Clear Creek and its ecosystem as more and more retail and business development was taking place in central Silverdale. The commercial boom of the 1970s was continuing and was threatening the creek and plants and wildlife in the area, Earl said. “It began with many of its members being retired military who had the time and the talents to support building the trail along the creek,” she said. The task force operates under an umbrella organization, the Great Peninsula Conservatory, which is a nonprofit organization. In the years since it began, more than six miles of trail have been added. And the former Best family barn, which was given to the conservatory by Carlton and Betty Smith, was restored for use as an interpretative center for the Clear Creek Trail. “So much has been accomplished,” said Earl. “We have lots to be proud of.” Earl began volunteer-

Contributed photo

Kitsap Fire Watch posted its dislike of staffing minimums.

Communication issues plague the CK fire district BY LESLIE KELLY

Leslie Kelly/staff photo

Mary Earl comes face-to-face with a decorated salmon from a previous auction, one of the ways the Clear Creek Task Force raises funds for the Clear Creek Trail. ing with the task force in 1996. When she was asked to lead the group, she couldn’t say no. “That’s my nature,” she said. “I can’t say ‘no.’” Prior to the trail work, Earl was a volunteer with Whaling Days. She’s lived in Kitsap County since 1977. Originally from Chicago, she came west to visit her sister and went camping at Forks. She met her former husband there and they decided to make Kitsap County their home. She worked in Seattle for large accounting firms and later was a partner in a wine shop in Old Town Silverdale. As someone who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, Earl doesn’t consider herself an environmentalist. But she appreciates and respects Mother Nature and wants to do what she can to preserve local treasurers like Clear Creek. To that end, she is looking for volunteers who will serve as board members for the task force. “We’ve been so lucky to

have so many people come out and volunteer when we have projects,” she said. “Now we need volunteers who are willing to be the organization behind the task force.” Earl wants a nine member board. They will be the planners, she said. They need to be willing to give four to five hours each month. “Even though we have the conservancy, we have to have our own secretary and treasurer,” she said. “And we do have to do our own fundraising.” The task force has an annual budget of about $35,000, and Earl said 75 percent of that is from individual donations. “We have a good reputation, so people are very willing to donate to us,” she said. “And a lot of what we need are supplies which we often get as inkind donations.” One example of that, she said, was a recent donation by Air Management Systems, which gave the labor and parts to get 34 tanks ready for salm-

on eggs for the Salmon in the Classroom program, which is a joint effort of the task force, the Central Kitsap and the Silverdale Kiwanis clubs, the Suquamish tribe and Kitsap County. Salmon that hatch are eventually placed in the creek. Lowe’s has been another supporter and has given supplies for Earth Day work, the United Way Day of Caring and other creek projects. Some funding also comes from grants such as a $5,000 grant in 2012 from REI. Earl already has her calendar filling fast with Clear Creek activities, On Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20, there will be a work day on the trail. Anyone is welcome to the interpretative center at 9:30 a.m. to help in a winter clean up. Pruning and cleaning the roof of the shed and barn are on the list, as is making way for construction near the Bucklin Hill bridge. SEE CLEAR CREEK, A9


Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue Chief Scott Weninger and Board Chairman Dave Fergus are defending the move to drop minimum staffing requirements from 19 to 17 firefighters per shift following a full day last week in which no staff members worked out of Chico Fire Station No. 64. But the topic of minimum staffing is still on the minds of many in the district, including firefighters. And at a meeting of the CKFR board on Monday, Weninger suggested that the board, the administration and firefighters come together for an “economic summit” as a way of mending fences between the parties and to look for new ideas to the district’s economic woes. Beginning Dec. 1, 2013, the district moved from having 19 to 17 firefighter/ EMTs on duty during each of the three shifts per day. That move was approved by the board in November in order to reduce the overtime that the district was accumulating. The district’s overtime cost last year was $886,730 because of the time-and-a-

half paid to firefighters who were called in on overtime in order to reach the 19 minimum staffing level. Weninger said the district has 75 career firefighters and 25 are assigned to a shift. But when some are out sick, on vacation or at training, staffing has been between 23 and 19. Since Dec.1, that minimum has been reduced to 17. So on Jan. 8, instead of calling in firefighters on overtime, the Chico Station did not have its normal number of firefighters and was staffed only by available volunteers. Ronny Smith, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2819, the union representing CKFR firefighters, said his concern is that the firefighters were never consulted before the board made the decision to reduce minimum staffing. “If they’d come to us and asked us to be a part of the discussion, we would have been willing to look for creative solutions - possibly even taking a pay cut to keep all the stations open at full staffing,” said Smith. “But we were never asked or even told that the subject was being considered. We’re SEE CK FIRE, A9

Central Kitsap Reporter, January 17, 2014  

January 17, 2014 edition of the Central Kitsap Reporter

Central Kitsap Reporter, January 17, 2014  

January 17, 2014 edition of the Central Kitsap Reporter